If you want to keep your Workers’ Comp insurance costs down, you need to understand the effects of opioid abuse.The economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. is about $78.5 billion every year including healthcare, lost productivity, treatment, and criminal justice costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health insurers and workers’ compensation carriers bear about one-third of that cost, according to Claims Journal.
The result is increased workers’ compensation costs. A 2012 report from Lockton Companies reported that “Prescription opioids are presently the number one workers’ compensation problem in terms of controlling the ultimate cost of indemnity losses. There has never been a more damaging impact on the cost of workers’ compensation claims from a single issue than the abuse of opioid prescriptions for the management of chronic pain.”
Why is This Happening?
Often, when an employee is injured on the job, a physician will prescribe an opioid for the pain. The Addiction Center reported that in 2012, 259 million opioid painkiller prescriptions were written. According to the Talbot Campus, the US makes up just 5% of the world’s population but consumes about 80% of the world’s prescription opioid drugs.
The problem is that opiates are one of the most addictive substances available today. The Addiction Center reported that of the 259 million prescriptions written in 2012, an estimated 2 million led to addiction.
According to the Talbot Campus, prescription opioid drugs contribute to 40% of all US opioid overdose deaths. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that every day, more than 130 people in the US die after overdosing on opioids.
Furthermore, approximately 5% of those who abuse prescription drugs eventually transition to heroin.
The Link Between Prescription and Illicit Opioids
Opioids include pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, etc. that are available by prescription. However, many opioid addicts turn to illegal drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. The Talbot Campus reported that about three out of four heroin users misused prescription opioids before their use of heroin.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is fifty times more potent than heroin, is cheaper to produce and more readily available than heroin. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is primarily used to manage severe pain for cancer patients and end-of-life palliative care. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is often mixed with heroin or cocaine – often without the users’ knowledge.
According to the CDC, there were more deaths involving synthetic opioids (more than 28,000) than from any other type of opioid in 2017. The introduction of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is currently the most significant concern among opioid experts.
What can you do as an Employer?
Despite these frightening statistics, most people who are prescribed opioids do not become addicts; however, the ones who do are costing U.S. businesses like yours billions of dollars every year.
Thankfully, some precautions can be taken to address pain relief for injured employees. Here are a few steps to take if you want to reduce your workers’ compensation insurance costs.
Educate Your Employees
Make sure they understand the risks of opioid use, how addictive it can be, and how to prevent problems.
Build Good Relationships with Providers
Build a good relationship with area physicians - especially physicians within your network – and pharmacy benefit managers to make sure that they understand the risks of opioid use and how to minimize those risks such as screening patients for addiction, avoiding the use of opioids as the first line of therapy, and conducting urine screenings.
If you suspect a case of opioid over prescription or abuse, intervene by talking to another physician, the insurer, and/or the third-party administrator.
Accidents do happen, and employees do get hurt, but don’t allow the prevalence of opioid addiction exacerbate the effects of those injuries on the injured employee, his or her family and coworkers, or your workers’ comp costs.
Want to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs?
Another way to save on workers’ compensation and other commercial insurance costs is to work with an independent agent who can compare the cost of your insurance with more than one company.
Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. Our independent agents will make sure that you get the best price on quality insurance protection.